Mac Kelly

Learning Infosec in '22


Around this time last year I found tech twitter. Before you jump to conclusions let me explain.

Once upon a time it was an innocent subculture full of anonymous, pseudonymous, and non-anonymous accounts of people interested in technology. A tool that has been used for quite a while actually (see list of pen names). You have current/former tech employees, crypto & AI enthusiasts, founders, VCs, undergrads, and genuinely curious people. When you cut through the noise, you discovered some incredible dialogue about the future, and the kind of roles technology can play. Discourse between people with opposing views was pure. Humanity & technology serving as the topic of conversation was the catalyst for auspicious dialogue.

Why is this important

It was a place that influenced me to learn “how to code.” I put this in quotations because it is such an incredibly broad thing to say. However, in this case that is not a bad thing. It allows people to explore the world of computer languages.

But for me, "learning how to code" sent me on a journey to understand computers as a whole, and the networks that connect all of us; What are they made out of? How do computers communicate with one another? What rules do they play by? These questions led me to the Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI model).

Macabe Kelly

Finding this model, and realizing that my studies of logic in undergrad conceptually applied to programming, I reached an 'ah ha' moment. The OSI model became the roadmap for understanding. My teammate Matt (an awesome engineer) has helped a ton as well, although he won't tell you that because he's a humble fella. Early on he made learning this sort of thing not as complicated as the movies or culture make it out to be. As long as you can use google, find/ask questions on stackoverflow, and know your way around vscode and a terminal you're pretty much set. Oh, and wanting to learn with some curiosity helps a ton.

The importance of the OSI model

New questions arise at each level, of which come new journeys to find answers. As I search around, infosec (information security) is the domain I frequently find myself. I love the tools. Wireshark is my favorite right now. It allows you to get down to the packet level, which is super cool. Etherscan is another great tool, and if you're crypto native you might have messed around with it before. It's pretty straightforward and has easy to use API's. But that brings me to another point.

In typical 2020’s fashion, I've found two sides in my learning journey. The way things currently operate, and the way things will operate. I am talking about the difference between cloud-based networks, and blockchain-based networks.

Road Ahead

Being 24, I was pretty young when cloud-computing made web services capable of storing and transporting large volumes of data. Give AWS, Microsoft, and Google among others the credit they deserve. They made these things possible. A truly remarkable achievement to build such a thing, and pool together brilliant researchers in each respective OSI layer.

Their work forever changed humanity and when you get down to it, the material science and physics displayed in these advancements are nothing short of awe inspiring. Literally playing with the speed of light. Learning about these things created some regret not being a CS major. But one thing is for sure, the information you need to learn is available for free, and the tech community is super welcoming to people who want to pick up some skills.

The blockchain based web is mostly a concept at this point. The only project I've seen that comes the closest to fully on-chain web architecture is the Internet Computer. Most ethereum based projects host their frontend on cloud providers, and the only thing on-chain are the smart contracts and tokens. Which is nice, but not entirely decentralized. The cost for storage of 1GB on ethereum costs ~$79 million. Which makes you want to vomit. The cost on ICP is about ~$5/GB. This is nowhere near the cost of AWS (much lower) or other cloud providers, but it's a huge indicator of progress in cryptographic storage on-chain, and a potential disruptor to traditional cloud providers.

Btw, the "cloud" is just someone else's computer that you rent.


These two paradigms have made learning infosec much more exciting. It's as if you're watching progress unfold before you, seeing the pendulum of support and critique swing as you plug away learning new techniques and practices. Each paradigm has its unique threat landscape, but having an understanding of both requires understanding the OSI model. That is why it is such a great roadmap.

There is so much to look forward to, a lot to learn, and some great people to take on challenges with. If you're reading this, and looking to learn some programming, or just interested in technology in general, just jump already. Your wings will unfold on your way down and you'll be flying soon. Or they won't. Idk it's just a metaphor.

#writing #crypto #cloud #infosec

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